French court convicts cardinal of not reporting child abuse
by Nicolas Vaux-Montagny
LYON, France — French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin said Thursday he will offer his resignation to Pope Francis, after a court found him guilty of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest.
The Lyon court's surprise decision was seen by alleged victims as a victory for child protection and a strong signal to the Catholic Church.
The court handed Barbarin a six-month suspended prison sentence for not reporting the cases in the period between July 2014 and June 2015.
In a brief statement to the media, Barbarin said "I have decided to go and see the Holy Father to offer him my resignation." He said he will meet Pope Francis "in a few days," and expressed his "compassion" for the alleged victims.
Alleged victims of the Rev. Bernard Preynat claim Barbarin and other church officials covered up for him for years, but the statute of limitations had expired on some charges and even the victims had expected that the cardinal would be acquitted.
Five other defendants were acquitted.
In the court's decision, read by The Associated Press, magistrates wrote that Barbarin "had the obligation to report" accusations because the alleged victims didn't request the ecclesiastic secrecy.
Alexandre Hezez, one of the alleged victims and among those who brought the case to trial, met Barbarin in November 2014 and kept informing him that there were probably other victims.
"Cardinal Barbarin never showed any doubt about the information," the court wrote.
Barbarin was not present at the Lyon court Thursday. His lawyer, Jean-Felix Luciani, said he will appeal.
"This is a decision that is not fair at the juridical level," Luciani said. He added: "We hope that at the next step, justice will be done."
The Vatican didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Preynat has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts in the 1970s and '80s and will be tried separately.
Nine people who said the priest abused them brought the case against Barbarin to court.
"This is a victory that sends a strong signal to lots of victims and a signal to the church as well," said Francois Devaux, president of the association "La Parole Liberee" (Lift the Burden of Silence), a group of victims of Preynat.
"We see that no one is above the law. We have been heard by the court. This is the end of a long path."
A lawyer for some of Preynat's alleged victims, Yves Sauvayre, called the verdict "historic."
"The cardinal is convicted because he didn't do what needed to be done," he said.
The victims say top clergy had been aware of Preynat's actions since 1991, but allowed him to be in contact with children until his 2015 retirement.
In addition to Barbarin, an archbishop, a bishop, a priest and two other officials had been on trial. Another top Catholic official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, was among the accused — but didn't appear in court because the Vatican invoked his diplomatic immunity.
In emotional proceedings during the four-day trial in January, several men recounted their fear and shame after they were abused.
Christian Burdet, 53, recalled how Preynat forced him to go into his tent when he was a 10-year-old Scout.
Describing years of suffering, Burdet said he wanted to "understand how this system was put in place" and help other victims to speak out.
Preynat's trial is to be held by next year. The date has not been set yet. Only 13 cases out of an estimated total of 85 alleged victims will go to court, as the statute of limitations has expired for the others.
Last month, French judges refused to block the release in French cinemas of a movie based on the scandal by French director Francois Ozon.
The decision against Barbarin was handed down less than two weeks after the conviction of another "prince" of the church, Cardinal George Pell, was announced in his native Australia of sexually abusing two youths. He too is appealing.
And it comes amid a reckoning among rank-and-file Catholics of how church leaders around the globe allowed decades of sexual abuse and cover-up to fester. The resulting crisis in confidence in the hierarchy sparked Francis' decision to convene church leaders from around the world for an extraordinary Vatican summit last month.
Also last month, Francis defrocked the onetime leader of the American Catholic Church, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, after a church investigation determined he sexually molested minors and adult men
Wake Up Carolina holds summit against human trafficking and sex abuse at Charleston
by Kate Mosso
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Speaking up about your rights isn't always easy. That was the message at the first 'Our Community, Our Children' summit put on by non-profit Wake Up Carolina.
Survivors of childhood sex abuse joined parents and community leaders to draw awareness to tough problems facing minors in the Lowcountry.
“We like to pretend they're not, they don't exist. Especially in our towns. But unfortunately they exist everywhere,” says Wake Up Carolina Program Director Abby Foster.
Officials say sex abuse, human trafficking, substance abuse, mental health, and suicide are growing threats - especially for teens.
“We in law enforcement and in our community we see these things they're intermingle. You have someone in human trafficking or someone's being bullied. They're possibly going to have to deal with mental health issues.” Inspector Chip Googe of Mount Pleasant Police says.
Forster says sexually abused children are particularly at risk. “[There is] a correlation with child abuse. They're more likely to fall victim to human trafficking.”
It happened to Tiffany Knowles when she was just 19.
“Ended up introducing me to her pimp. I didn't know where we were going. Just said, 'we're gonna go see my daddy,'” Knowles recalls.
The mother of two teens says spreading awareness about real-world threats is key to prevention.
“If my story can convince one person to leave their pimp, predator, or captor, I feel like I've completed my mission for that day.”
Police say they want children to know they're here to help.
“Substance abuse, mental health issues, opioid abuse. Those are things we're not going to lock you up over. Those are things we're going to find a program to help you,” Inspector Googe explains.
The message to young people navigating a complicated world? Child sex abuse victim Julie Todaro says it's to 'speak up.'
“To the kids I'm speaking to who have been abused. If the first person you tell doesn't believe you, just keep talking until somebody listens.”
A state-wide bill to put stricter penalties on sex traffickers goes to vote later this year
Believe the victims of child sexual abuse? If only we did.
It's taken years for people to see Michael Jackson for what he was. With abuse, the world prefers to look the other way.
by Suzanne Moore
Here are some things I don't really want to think about but have had to over the years: Jimmy Savile's penchant for tracksuits, as the bottoms can be pulled up and down so easily; vulnerable 13-year-old girls in Rochdale ignored by local police; seven-year-old boys sleeping in the bed of a pop star and being introduced to masturbation; or the day long ago when I was teaching film studies and a film I showed (Terence Davies' Distant Voices, Still Lives) produced extreme distress for one of my mature students.
Something in that film, a shot of a sofa I think, had caused a rush of terrible memories. In those days there were groups for survivors of sexual abuse and I was able to find some kind of help for them. Never for one moment did I disbelieve the distress I saw in front of me. Nor did I find it strange that sometimes people did not clearly remember what happened to them as children and that they could not talk about it till many years later.
What I find shocking at the moment is that we all know about the sexual abuse of children but we still remain in such a deep state of denial about it. The NSPCC estimates that one in 20 children in this country has been sexually abused. The police say that if they were to prosecute every case there would be no time to do anything else. Everyone who works in mental health services, or with addiction, or with the homeless, will tell you how sexual abuse is a factor in the background of so many people they deal with. The detritus of abuse is all around us. We turn a blind eye to that which disturbs us in order to protect ourselves.
Yet as the documentary Leaving Neverland airs, as Wade Robson and James Safechuck talk sometimes blankly, sometimes shakily, about what Michael Jackson did to them, it is hard to say that our understanding of child sexual abuse has grown much over the years.
Sure, at particular moments we may be more attuned to it. Anyone who watched David Nicholls' brilliant adaptation of the Patrick Melrose novels glimpsed the dissociative states that many who were abused as children enter into. Here the abusive father is unspeakably monstrous.
In Jackson's case we saw this child-man, whose timbre of voice varied according to who he was talking to, taking his pick of young boys: taking them to his room, sleeping in the same bed with them because – as all the world knew – he just loved children. He told us that. All he ever wanted to do was buy them stuff and make them happy, this incredibly talented man who we believed had been robbed of his own childhood. We understood he had been abused himself (not sexually but in other ways). In allowing him to reclaim his own childhood, did we turn a blind eye to his robbing small boys of theirs?
If there is one thing we should have learned from all the recent child abuse scandals it is simply this: listen to the victims. Believe them. Yes I believed the men in this documentary, just as I believed Jordy Chandler when he accurately described the underside of Jackson's penis. That case was settled out of court for millions of dollars. Chandler's father later killed himself. Robson's father would also kill himself. There are many victims here.
We know by now how grooming works, don't we? How it makes victims feel special and loved and confused about keeping the secret. This was apparent in the testimonies of both Robson and Safechuck. When the line between love and sex and care becomes blurred for children, it is hard ever to trust or even know what these boundaries are as adults. This is why abuse wreaks such psychic chaos. Not only were these boys told they were special as they were assaulted, they were then dismissed when the next boy came along and became the favourite.
All of this is obviously being denied by the corporate machine that is the Jackson estate. He was a total angel, his true fans say, we are smearing a good man. Believing Jackson is innocent is now some sort of article of faith. It is certainly easier to submerge oneself in a vat of saccharine denial. Look at how long parts of the Catholic church did that. Look at how long it has taken them to accept what damaged adults have said was done to them.
Yet sexual abuse doesn't usually involve superstars. It is sadly ordinary. Too, too ordinary.
Every time I talk about this subject – and I have done for years – I get emails and messages from both men and women saying that this has happened to them and they have never told a soul. I never know quite what to do beyond letting them know that they have been heard and that they have been believed.
I hope right now that this message is louder than the voices of those who “know” the “so-called victims” are lying and the denials of the Jackson estate. But I am sadly not sure.
The grooming continues to this day. And why wouldn't it? It works, after all.
Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist
Childline can be contacted in the UK on 0800 1111 and Samaritans on 116 123. Calls to both are free and confidential.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org
As an expert in child sexual abuse, here's my take on Michael Jackson's accusers in Leaving Neverland
Our need to believe in a just world where this kind of thing isn't done by adults to children encourages us to conform to the rules and regulations of our communities
Since Leaving Neverland – the disturbing documentary film about Michael Jackson and the nature of his relationship with two young boys – aired, many of Jackson's fans have said they cannot believe their idol would commit the abuses alleged by the now adult men.
But others watched horrified as stories from the 1980s and 1990s were recounted. Viewers asked: how could this have happened? How did the parents let their children get into such apparently dangerous situations? And why weren't red flags raised at the time?
I'm not going to speculate on the accuracy or otherwise of the two men's stories. But, true or not, they raise important issues that we need to better understand if we are to prevent abuse from happening.
We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.
Historically, as a society we have actually found it very difficult to believe allegations or to acknowledge possible signs that child sexual abuse is occurring. Several theoretical explanations have been offered for this, including our need to believe in a just world where this kind of thing isn't done by adults to children. Just world beliefs encourage us to conform to the rules and regulations of our communities, since we believe that this will be rewarded with a safe and orderly existence for us and our families. So we find it difficult to comprehend that bad things happen to those who do not deserve it.
There are several common misconceptions about child sexual abuse which can make it hard to believe allegations when they are made. These include the belief that sexual abusers are monsters who are violent and frightening to children. We also tend to believe that parents would know if their child was being sexually abused or that children would tell someone immediately and that they would display fear towards the perpetrator. It's also commonly – and often wrongly – thought that a child's statements about experiences of abuse would remain consistent over time.
It is quite natural to think of child molesters as monsters who intimidate and frighten the children they prey on. But while there are various types of offender, many are able to gain access to – and the trust of – children due to their ability to attract children to them and to emotionally and socially connect with them. Such offenders will gravitate towards children who are shy, withdrawn, lonely or rejected by peers. They work to create an emotional bond with the child through becoming their “best friend” and making the child feel “special”.
In this way, the child becomes emotionally dependent on the perpetrator. The dependency is further fuelled by isolating the child from others. This grooming process can take between hours and months and the sexual element is often introduced gradually through desensitising the child to touch using hugs, rough and tumble play or tickling. Rarely does child sexual abuse involve violence or threats of harm (any threats that are made tend to relate to the consequences for their relationship should they be “found out”).
After Leaving Neverland, I can never listen to Michael Jackson again
When offenders do not have a legitimate reason to have unsupervised access to a desired child or the child is so young that they have little autonomy outside of the family, the motivated offender will often also groom the child's parents. Indeed, it is reported that the child's parents are often groomed before the child. The abuser will ingratiate themselves with the parents, doing small favours and creating an emotional bond with them. It may be something as simple as offering childminding to give the parents a much-needed rest. The bond is created by sharing personal information, particularly that which signifies vulnerability. Their involvement in the family becomes natural, normal and highly welcomed. Some will come to be heralded as the family's saviour.
This means the parents' natural guard against “strangers” around their children will be lowered, if not dropped. Any suspicions that might arise will be automatically dismissed or explained away, since they become unable to comprehend how anyone so wonderful could possibly engage in something so abhorrent.
Very few children disclose sexual abuse at the time that it is occurring. Where disclosures do occur, these tend to be where the abuse is a one-off incident perpetrated by a stranger with little by way of grooming. So the abuse is more readily conceptualised as an unwanted assault by both the child and those to whom the child discloses it.
There are many reasons for non-disclosure. One reason reported retrospectively by adults who were abused as children is that they did not know that what was happening was wrong. Some children even feel hurt by the perceived rejection when the abuse ends. Many only come to realise that their experience constituted abuse as they entered adulthood, and they can see the relationship from a new perspective. This realisation, which can be perceived as a betrayal of trust, can result in delayed trauma due to the abuse only emerging in adulthood.
Despite the new realisation of the abusive nature of the relationship, it is not unusual for adult survivors of child sexual abuse to report still feeling a conflicted love for the perpetrator. This has been likened to “Stockholm syndrome”, which has been found to arise in hostage situations, where a deep and immutable bond is established with the perpetrator. So there there can be an ongoing reticence and feelings of guilt for having reported the abuse. Sometimes statements are retracted as a result. This effect has been associated with a phenomenon known as “child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome”.
As I have said, we're not dealing here with any specific case. But, in my experience, the alleged horrors detailed in Leaving Neverland – and Michael Jackson's family denies that they ever happened – appear to conform to the issues I've discussed. What is clear is that the trauma such experiences cause can take decades to emerge and can last a lifetime.
James Elmore: Refusing to vaccinate children is child abuse
Raising a special needs child can be hard. Our oldest son is autistic. We are thankful that he is otherwise healthy. Raising him has been a challenge, but he has turned out to be a fine young man and will graduate high school next year.
I have often wondered why he is autistic. What I know is that it wasn't a vaccine that made him this way.
In a quest for answers, many parents of autistic children are scouring the Internet. There is no scientific consensus on what causes autism, but environmental and genetic factors appear to be the primary suspects.
However, there is a lot of really misleading and outright false information about autism and the root cause on the Internet. The group known as "anti-vaxxers" would have you believe that vaccines are driving the increase in autism diagnoses around the world. Their evidence is 100 percent fabricated.
Here are some facts. Dr. Andrew Wakefield was one of 12 authors of the study that supposedly showed a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. The most important thing you should know is that he was in bed with lawyers hoping to sue the vaccine industry on behalf of parents with autistic children — before the study even started. This is not how science is done – they drew a conclusion first and then went looking for evidence. All of it was 100 percent driven by greed.
The study was conducted on only 12 children. We live on a planet of billions. I'd hardly call 12 subjects a comprehensive study. After flaws in the study were pointed out, 10 of the 12 authors retracted the findings, stating "no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient." Another study was conducted by different people shortly after publication that found no link between the two.
The British Medical Journal later published a series of articles that proved how the study was not just flawed, it was intentionally fraudulent. They found clear ethical violations, clear falsification of facts and other issues. Sadly, journalists broke that story, not the journal that published the study. This and other recent cases show that "expert" opinions and medical journals are not always right and should not be used as the only source of evidence for an argument.
The entire series of articles was later retracted by the journal they were published in, The Lancet. Despite all of this, Dr. Wakefield doubled down. He continued to push this dangerous lie. He made a movie that he calls a documentary about it. His "work" made its way onto countless Facebook pages and other social media feeds. Parents, blanketed in cognitive dissonance and not understanding how scientific inquiry works, panicked and stopped getting their kids vaccinated.
The original concern was the MMR vaccine and it has now morphed into a thinking that all vaccines are bad.
This is how we ended up with a measles outbreak in America in multiple states, a disease we eliminated from the U.S. years ago. We have come full circle. It has taken medical science 200 years to advance humans to the point where people are so healthy and living so long that they can deny that science and medicine is what got us here.
My oldest son said it best. "Even if vaccines did make me autistic, I'd rather be autistic than dead."
From the mouths of babes indeed.
Any parent who does not get their children vaccinated is guilty of child abuse. Should a child get sick, they should be criminally charged. Should that child die, they should be charged with premeditated murder. This is not a case of parental or personal freedoms. This is a case of anti-vaxxers putting the rest of the world at risk of a pandemic one day. Do the right thing and vaccinate your children.
James Elmore is a sixth-grade science teacher at North Marion Middle School.
I'm speaking out for my husband, his sister and all other sexual abuse survivors
by Helen Pitt
Between the ages of nine and 11 my husband was molested by a podiatrist who his parents had taken him to see to treat his flat feet.
By the time we'd met in our 20s, he'd barely told a soul. Instead he put it into the "dark corners or recesses" of his brain, as the former choir boy told the jury in the case against Cardinal George Pell as to why he didn't report his abuse for years. He was in shock.
Before my husband, William, was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 31, he had told his parents about the abuse, and they were horrified and guilt-ridden. They had sat metres away in a busy waiting room, while behind closed doors the medical professional they had trusted, carried out despicable acts.
When William told his sister, Jeannette, her response was: "That happened to you too, did it?" This was the only acknowledgement she ever made of the abuse she also suffered.
William, however, by his mid-20s, spoke openly about it. He reported it to the police, who by that stage had had a host of similar complaints against the same man. They banded together and took out a class action against him – but the podiatrist died before they got to court.
William wrote a play about the experience, and received a grant to perform it in San Francisco, which he did to wide acclaim. He told me the writing of it had been good therapy for him, the performing of it had been good therapy for his audience. Many told him the same thing had happened to them.
He called it Dream Shark, which was a metaphor for how he felt about life after the abuse: whenever he had a dream, a shark and its dorsel fin would appear in it, lurking ominously beneath the surface. Unseen, but ever-present. Like child abuse.
In the past few weeks, Australia has been a traumatised nation. In light of not just the findings against Cardinal Pell, but also those of the banking royal commission, we've lost faith in the institutions, the church and the banks, some of us once trusted. Even those of us who are not Catholic feel that vicarious trauma.
Imagine, then, how you would feel if you were one of the abused children. I'm sure telephone help lines and counsellors have been inundated from the resurfacing of repressed memories.
My husband died 14 years ago of a brain tumour. He was 41. His sister, Jeannette, died of ovarian cancer, at 53, five years ago. I've never spoken publicly about the abuse they suffered. But even now, over 45 years since it happened, I feel vicariously traumatised in the retelling.
I've felt this reading and watching every item in relation to the conviction of Cardinal Pell. It feels somehow disrespectful to even write this, but I feel I need to because my husband and sister-in-law no longer can. It's a long bow to draw a link between childhood trauma and their cancer deaths. But it's a question that's often kept me awake at night.
One of the most powerful moments over the course of my 33 years as a journalist was watching the standing ovation at the final sitting of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2017.
Scores of survivors of sexual abuse, and the people who supported them, alongside then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, applauded loudly as the commissioners took their seats for the final time in the Sydney hearing room. They thanked them for listening.
So I write this as my own form of ovation, to all the people who have had the courage to speak about their sexual abuse, by often powerful people.
And to those who have been too traumatised or terrified, and gone to their graves without ever being able to speak their truth.
Southern Baptist Convention grapples with sexual abuse report
After two newspapers rocked the evangelical Vatican, members who work with victims say much remains to be changed
by Josiah Hesse
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), one of the largest Christian organizations in the world, is grappling with allegations that more than 250 of its leaders sexually abused more than 700 congregants over the last two decades.
A months-long investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, published this month, asserted that dozens of churches within the SBC knowingly hired sex offenders, silenced victims, neglected to fire sexually abusive leaders and declined to report cases to secular authorities, or even document them within their own organization.
The SBC is the closest thing evangelicals have to a Vatican. That has lead to the two newspapers' work being compared to the Boston Globe's 2002 revelations about sexual abuse within the Catholic church, which were retold in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight.
“It's similar to the Boston Globe story in that people have been desperately shouting about this for years and it's only just now receiving the attention has deserved,” said Boz Tchividjian, founder of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (Grace), an investigative and educational organization.
“The 700 victims revealed in this investigation are only the tip of the iceberg, since very few survivors of abuse ever come forward.”
Tchividjian is also the grandson of Billy Graham, the world's most famous evangelical preacher. For him and many others, part of what contributes to the sexual abuse problem within some SBC communities is to be found within “purity culture”, a set of principles that portray women as virginal objects for men to court, educate and marry.
Conversely, women within purity culture are often viewed as responsible for male sexual behavior through the way they dress and behave, and are therefore seen as responsible when a man succumbs to sexual temptation.
“Purity culture can discourage abused women from coming forward for fear that they'll be blamed and no longer seen as pure,” says Tchividjian. “It places distorted value on male leadership, which can lead to a circling of the wagons when a man is accused of misconduct, discrediting the victim and protecting the ministry.”
The SBC was loosely organized in 1845, during a split with northern Baptists over the issue of slavery. It has for years wrestled with efforts to reform its principles, particularly its ban on women in positions of leadership over men.
Its 47,000 churches and 15 million members adhere to a variety of principles that are at times altered in more liberal or conservative directions depending on the tides of leadership. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, leaders such as Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson lead a successful conservative takeover, seeking a literal interpretation of the Bible in all matters, particularly on the issue of women in leadership.
In 1984, the SBC adopted the Resolution on Ordination and the Role of Women in Ministry. It says: “The scriptures teach that women are not in public worship to assume a role of authority over men lest confusion reign in the local church.”
The recent SBC exposé named both Pressler and Patterson as accused perpetrators of sexual misconduct.
Efforts to contact the SBC for comment were not returned. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, interim president of the SBC executive committee, August Boto, expressed support for the investigation and “sorrow” for victims, but said the organization was unable to create a database of abusers within the church, which would help prevent abusers being fired by one church and hired by another, due to the central tenet that each church retains some level of autonomy.
Asked about his rejection of such a proposal in 2008, Boto said: “Lifting up a model that could not be enforced was an exercise in futility.”
Tchividjian finds this perspective troubling.
“If a SBC church hired an openly gay pastor or denied the divinity of Jesus,” he said, “I sincerely doubt that the church would be allowed to remain within the denomination. This tells me that the SBC has some degree of centralized authority, certainly one that could develop a database and require member churches to contribute to it.”
‘A big, flashing vacancy sign for predators'
According to the Chronicle and Express-News, the limited instances in which secular authorities were contacted about abuse within the SBC resulted in little action. Similar to the #MeToo movement, such failures to hold church leaders accused of sexual misconduct to account via conventional channels have led to social media activism that seeks justice through public outings.
Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch grew up the daughters of pastors in the early 2000s, meeting years later at Moody Bible College. Their friendship blossomed as each reevaluated the purity culture doctrine. Paasch saw how her lack of sexual autonomy played a role in her endurance of a sexual assault and reluctance to report it. Joy came to terms with the romantic grooming she experienced as a teenager from a church youth leader in his 30s, and the way in which her community swept it under the rug.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Joy and Paasch decided to share their experiences under the hashtag #ChurchToo. By morning, the move had gone viral and the two were inundated with stories of sexual abuse and psychological manipulation at the hands of church leaders.
“It seems theologically tied to the way women are treated,” Paasch said. “When I was growing up there was this idea I should consider the men who expressed interest in me, because they were men of god, they were leaders. There was this idea that men and God were deciding all that behind the scenes for me. I never felt that I had permission to say no.”
Joy said: “People want to pretend that sexual shame and purity culture has nothing to do with abuse. It not only affects how the church responds to abuse, but it's the reason it happens in the first place.
“When you have a church that's mired in purity culture, you have a group of young, naive women who are primed to doubt themselves, to doubt their own intuition, to doubt their sense of their own autonomy. They're primed to listen to men, particularly spiritual men, above their own intuition. And then there's little sex education. They don't know the word ‘consent'. All of this adds up to a big, flashing vacancy sign for predators.”
Paasch and Joy admit that being inundated with horror stories of abuse is triggering and exhausting. But they say providing a space for victims to have their voices heard and believed is an essential process.
Tchividjian is similarly troubled by the revelations of abuse throughout protestant churches. But having worked in the field for so long, both as a state prosecutor and the founder and executive director of Grace, he is aware of how much more pervasive and insidious the problem is than the public knows.
He continues to work with faith-based organizations as an independent investigator and abuse prevention specialist. The most common recommendations he gives are for church leaders to listen to and respect victims, to remove reported offenders from positions of authority, and to contact law enforcement whenever anyone is suspected of being sexually abused.
All these are actions that the SBC failed to implement, according to the newspapers' report.
“Churches should be the safest communities in the world for vulnerable people,” Tchividjian said. “Being concerned about whether your child could be harmed by a church leader is the last thing a parent should have to think about, but that is a concern that must always be on our radar screen.”
Pope Opens Meeting on Clerical Sex Abuse Under Great Pressure From Victims
Pope Francis opened a historic summit on child protection and the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis, saying, “We hear the cry of the little ones asking for justice.”
VATICAN CITY — Cloistered inside the Vatican on Thursday, Roman Catholic Church leaders heard searing prerecorded video testimonials from abuse survivors, including one made pregnant three times by a priest who started abusing her at age 15, beat her and forced her to have abortions.
“Victims need to be believed,” another person pleaded by video, urging bishops and other church leaders to work with civil authorities to hold sexually deviant clerics accountable.
Outside the Vatican walls, clusters of people who have suffered abuse in the Catholic Church hovered near news conferences, gave hours' worth of interviews, observed vigils and planned a Saturday march.
Many expressed exasperation and little optimism that an extraordinary four-day meeting of bishops and other participants convened by Pope Francis to grapple with clerical child sexual abuse would lead to even basic changes.
“Same old, same old,” said Tim Law, president of a survivors support group, Ending Clergy Abuse. “For six years of his papacy he has said, ‘zero tolerance, zero tolerance,' ” he added. “He's backed down.”
The scenes punctuated the enormous pressures on the pope to forcefully address priestly sexual abuse, a scourge that has for decades devastated some areas of his vast church while in others it has been utterly ignored and denied.
The meeting was potentially a consequential moment for this papacy and the most visible step taken by the Vatican to impress upon bishops and other church leaders — some of them still skeptical — the enormity of a crisis that has shaken the faithful.
Expectations for action were amplified by victims and victim advocates, who converged in Rome to apply pressure from outside the meeting, which took place in a Holy See conference hall.
Priest sex abuse scandals have repeatedly emerged around the world even decades after the problem first came to light in the United States, where the systemic shuffling of predatory priests from parish to parish spread abuse like a virus.
A lack of forceful action by the Vatican has disheartened and disgusted many victims and their advocates, who are demanding a policy of zero tolerance and dismissal from the clerical state for abusive priests and the bishops who protect them.
The issue has drastically devalued the moral authority that is the currency of the clergy and Pope Francis, who is often a lonely voice in support of migrants and the poor. As the abuse crisis has festered, critics have asked why anyone should listen to a moral leader unable, or unwilling, to clean up his own house.
On Thursday, addressing the 190 Catholic Church leaders who had gathered from around the world, the pope sought to reassure his flock that ‘‘we hear the cry of the little ones asking for justice.”
Still, despite his acknowledgment that people ‘‘expect from us not simple and obvious condemnations, but concrete and effective measures,” he offered remedies that disappointed many victims.
Instead, Francis — who has said he intended the meeting to be a “catechesis,” educating bishops and religious leaders so they could undergo a conversion of spirit on the severity of the crisis — provided those assembled with 21 “reflection points.”
“They are a road map for our discussion,” Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's leading sex crimes investigator, said at a news conference.
They included deciding that priests and bishops found guilty of abuse should be dismissed from public ministry, but fell short of what most advocates consider zero-tolerance — the automatic dismissal from the clerical state.
“You have to take it on a case-by-case basis,” Archbishop Scicluna said, promising no blanket remedies.
Advocates for other victims of abuse and secrecy in the church, including for children of priests and for nuns raped by clerics, also came to Rome to meet with top officials and take advantage of the intense media interest.
The meeting itself included the presidents of many of the world's bishops' conferences, men's and women's religious orders and powerful cardinals from Francis' committee of top advisers.
The pope, who had initially inspired hopes for action after his election in 2013, placed himself in the ranks of abuse skeptics early last year when he accused victims of slandering bishops during a trip to Chile.
The outcry from victims was fast and furious. Criticism reached a fever pitch last summer, when the Pennsylvania attorney general released a scathing grand jury report and prelates in Francis' own hierarchy also accused him of covering up for abusers.
Since last year, Francis has undergone something of a conversion on the issue, admitting errors, asking forgiveness and toughening his stance toward those who covered up the crimes. He has pushed out bishops in Chile and last week defrocked the American former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Francis called for the four-day meeting at the Vatican last September, with the apparent aim of relieving some pressure, but it also increased expectations.
Some bishops have long denied that clerical sex abuse was a problem, or suggested that it existed only in the Anglo-Saxon world, or was a result of homosexuality in the church, a contention discredited by most scientific studies.
When bishops have acknowledged abuse, they often treat it as a sin to forgive rather than a crime to prosecute, reflexively protect their own and believe bishops over victims.
After the pope spoke, the Holy See said the assembled bishops watched video presentations of testimony from victims, who were not identified to the news media. It was an exercise in spreading the word that the abuses were real.
“The first thing they did was to treat me as a liar, turn their backs and tell me that I, and others, were enemies of the church,'' one victim, apparently from Chile, said of church leaders.
‘‘This pattern exists not only in Chile,'' the victim added. ‘‘It exists all over the world, and this must end.”
A 53-year-old priest also addressed the conference on a prerecorded video and recounted his own abuse by another priest.
One victim spoke of being sexually molested more than a hundred times, and of having the abuse covered up by religious superiors.
“I'll request the bishops to get their act clear because this is one of the time bombs happening in the church of Asia,” the victim said.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines, widely considered a contender to succeed Francis as pope, also addressed the gathering.
“Wounds have been inflicted by us bishops” that must be faced, said Cardinal Tagle, who has also come under criticism from victims' groups for his apparent lack of commitment to zero-tolerance policies.
He sought to balance the faith's belief in “unconditional love for those who have done wrong” with the need for justice for victims.
That emphasis on mercy was in keeping with Pope Francis' own past remarks and the concerns of many bishops who fear that clergy members are being unfairly targeted.
But such suggestions were likely to enrage victims' groups, who have grown tired of abstract responses, filled with biblical allegory, and demand concrete solutions.
Archbishop Scicluna, the Vatican's sex crimes investigator, argued that the pope's reflections points were ‘‘very, very concrete.”
They included codifying the participation of lay experts in sexual abuse investigations; preventing the publication of the names of accused clerics before they are convicted; and requiring reporting to civil authorities and church superiors.
He gave the bishops a detailed outline of what exactly they were supposed to do when confronted with abuse cases and said that candidates for the priesthood needed to undergo more rigorous screening.
The faithful, he said, “have the duty and the right” to report abuse and “civil or domestic laws should be obeyed.” Guilty verdicts, he said, should be promptly communicated publicly.
But some bishops in the hall said that was not a new lesson.
“These things are known,” Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán, president of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference, said as he walked out of the Vatican on his lunch break. “There is nothing new.”
Summit emphasizes global nature of abuse crisis, need to put victims first
by Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — The clerical sexual abuse crisis has caused “serious scandal” in the Catholic Church and in society “because of the dramatic suffering of the victims, as well as the unjustifiable lack of attention to them” and attempts by church leaders to cover up the crimes of the guilty, Pope Francis said.
Speaking to the public, including dozens of abuse survivors, after his midday recitation of the Angelus Feb. 24, the pope promised measures to ensure children would be safe in the church and that the crime of abuse would stop.
The pope's remarks came just an hour after he concluded the Vatican's Feb. 21-24 summit on child protection and the clerical abuse scandal.
In his talk concluding the summit, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church would focus on eight priorities: the protection of children; “impeccable seriousness” in dealing with clerical sexual abuse; genuine purification and acknowledgment of past failures; improved training for priests and religious; strengthening and continually reviewing the guidelines of national bishops' conferences; assisting victims of clerical sexual abuse; working to end the abuse and exploitation of children and young people online; and working with civil authorities to end sex tourism.
The summit brought together Pope Francis and 190 church leaders — presidents of bishops' conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, superiors of men's and women's religious orders and Roman Curia officials — for four days of listening to speeches, survivors' testimonies, discussions in small groups, a penitential liturgy and Mass.
In addition to the handful of survivors who spoke at the summit itself, dozens of survivors from around the world gathered in Rome in solidarity with one another and to speak to reporters and to individual bishops. Twelve representatives of the survivors were invited to meet Feb. 20 with the summit's organizing committee.
As the bishops met with the pope inside the Vatican's synod hall, the coalition Ending Clerical Abuse, which brought 40 survivors from 21 countries to Rome, organized vigils and a march to St. Peter's Square.
The survivors' groups were, in general, not satisfied with the summit and insisted the time to talk about the reality of abuse was long passed; it was time for action.
The summit, though, seemed designed more to ensure that every bishops' conference around the world recognized the gravity of the problem, even if very few cases of clerical sexual abuse had been reported in their countries.
Addressing the summit Feb. 23, Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, called out bishops, particularly in Asia and Africa, who dismiss the abuse crisis as a Western problem. She cited several personal experiences she confronted while counseling men and women who were abused.
Church leaders cannot think they can “keep silent until the storm has passed,” Sister Openibo told them. “This storm will not pass by.”
Preaching at the closing Mass, Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane warned his fellow bishops that they would be called to account for what they did and what they failed to do to stop the abuse and assist the victims.
For too long, he said, bishops and church leaders tried to protect the church's reputation and not the church's children.
“We have shown too little mercy, and therefore we will receive the same, because the measure we give will be the measure we receive in return,” he said. “We will not go unpunished.”
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, gave the first formal talk of the gathering Feb. 21, providing a theological reflection on the meaning of Christ's wounds and on the obligation of the world's bishops to recognize how they have inflicted wounds on Christ's beloved children.
Touching those wounds and begging for forgiveness is an essential part of a bishop's mission, he said.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and longtime investigator of clerical abuse cases, outlined for participants the necessary, mandatory steps they must take when an allegation is made.
He insisted on making the victims a priority, but also used his talk to suggest that the “stewardship of prevention” includes helping the pope choose candidates for bishop appointments.
“Many demand that the process be more open to the input of laypeople in the community,” Archbishop Scicluna said, a request later echoed by Sister Openibo.
When a priest or bishop or layperson is asked to comment on a potential candidate, the archbishop said, “it is a grave sin against the integrity of the episcopal ministry to hide or underestimate facts that may indicate deficits in the lifestyle or spiritual fatherhood” of the candidate.
Later, summit participants debated particular measures, such as a mandatory requirement that abuse allegations be turned over to police. Archbishop Scicluna insisted involving local police and other authorities was important, especially because while bishops exercise spiritual authority over their priests, they have no actual “coercive measures — and we don't have any nostalgia for the coercive measures of the Inquisition” — to force priests to cooperate with investigations and obey when punishment has been imposed.
Throughout the summit, bishops and other speakers tried to identify attitudes and issues that have contributed to the Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis; repeatedly they pointed to “clericalism,” and especially an attitude that allows priests and bishops to think that they were somehow special and above the law and common human decency.
To understand the full depth of the crisis, Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota said Feb. 21, bishops must stop looking at outsiders as the cause of the damage within the church and recognize that “the first enemies are within us, among us bishops and priests and consecrated persons who have not lived up to our vocation.”
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, told the gathering Feb. 22 that, as members of the College of Bishops, each bishop in every part of the world has a responsibility to root out abuse everywhere and that each bishop has a moral obligation to “point out honestly to our brother bishops or priests when we notice problematic behavior in them.”
Cardinal Cupich, one of the summit organizers, told the gathering he believed the Catholic Church needed a new structure in place to deal with bishops accused of abuse or of negligence in handling abuse claims.
His “metropolitan model” of accountability would rely on the metropolitan archbishop of a church region receiving claims made against a bishop and conducting an initial investigation with the help of qualified lay experts before turning the information over to the Vatican for further action.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops currently is investigating the possibility of such a model.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, told Catholic News Service Feb. 24 that it would be up to the full body of bishops to decide how to proceed, but he would not be surprised if they came up with a proposal that would combine a metropolitan-level system with a lay board to assist the metropolitan.
“In our proposals, the work of the laity will be to collaborate,” which is something all the speakers at the summit emphasized, Cardinal DiNardo said. “We want to make sure the laity are involved” in a way that would give them a level of independence to investigate claims against bishops while, at the same time, making it clear the board is acting on behalf of the church.
In her presentation to the summit Feb. 22, Linda Ghisoni, a canon lawyer who serves as a consultant for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and is undersecretary for laity at the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, urged the pope to consider a revision of the “pontifical secret” covering canonical procedures and trials of clerics accused of abuse.
Ghisoni's suggestion was echoed by others, who insisted that while the accused have a right to a presumption of innocence and victims have a right to anonymity, the names of clerics found guilty of abuse, the crimes of which they were found guilty and their punishments should be made known, at least to the victims who brought the case.
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, who spoke to the bishops about the importance of transparency, including in allowing police and prosecutors access to diocesan records, agreed with Ghisoni. He said he saw no convincing reason why the “pontifical secret” should apply “to the prosecution of criminal offenses concerning the abuse of minors.”
One of the stronger presentations on transparency was the meeting's last speech, delivered by Mexican television journalist Valentina Alazraki.
Journalists are not the enemy of the church, she said, unless members of the church are abusing children or covering up such abuse.
Editorial: School boards should examine their child-abuse reporting policies
Eric Nelson, principal of Fontenelle Elementary School, is charged with failing to report the suspicious behavior of a teacher charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault of a child. Nelson's attorney says in court documents that Nelson did properly report the matter.
Safety and security should be as high a priority for schools as is providing education. School employees and administrators have an all-important obligation to report allegations of child sexual abuse to proper authorities.
This requirement isn't merely common sense — it's a mandate specifically set forth in Nebraska state law. If school employees, of whatever level, witness or suspect alleged abuse, they must report the matter, or cause a report to be made, to law enforcement or to the Nebraska child abuse hotline at 800-652-1999.
The reporting policies in place at Omaha- area school districts vary considerably, however, The World-Herald's Joe Dejka found. Some districts hone closely to the wording of state law. Others do so only partially.
Some districts say a school employee can take up to 24 hours to report, but state law doesn't mention such a delay. Waiting 24 hours could put a child at risk, the county attorneys for Douglas and Sarpy Counties say.
Although state law allows an employee to “cause” a report to be made, the law does not define how that should be done, nor does it mention telling a school principal, as is stated under Omaha Public Schools policy.
“The confusion there is if somebody thinks, ‘Well, I have reported because I've told my supervisor or I told somebody at (the school district's) HR,' ” said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. “Well, that doesn't meet the statute.”
A current case involving OPS school personnel shows the importance of understanding and following state law on this issue. Eric Nelson, the principal of Fontenelle Elementary School, is charged with failing to report the suspicious behavior of Gregory Sedlacek, a teacher charged with sexually assaulting six students. Nelson's attorney says in court documents that Nelson did properly report the matter.
School boards would do well to examine their reporting policies and training procedures to make sure they're in line with state law on this issue. Complying fully with the law's requirements is an important step in keeping children safe.
The Role Mormon Religion Plays In 'Abducted In Plain Sight'
by Sarah Aswell
As millions of viewers watch the crime documentary Abducted in Plain Sight on Netflix, the overwhelming response is shock and disbelief. How could this have possibly happened? How in the world could a man abduct the same child twice? And then not face consequences for it?
As the story unfolds, these questions aren't completely answered in a satisfying way – even filmmaker Skye Borgman told Vanity Fair that the family's explanations of the events frustrated her so much that she had to take a six-week break from making the movie.
But there's one explanation for the outrageous tale that isn't fully explored in the film (and Borgman herself agrees): the role that faith, religion, and the Mormon church played in the kidnappings, not only when it comes to perpetrator Robert “B” Berchtold's actions, but also the actions of victim Jan Broberg and her family.
The church is mentioned in the first minutes of the documentary: the Berchtold and Broberg families both belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) – and they both worship at the same place in the small Idaho town of Pocatello. It's not just a foundation for the close friendship between the families, it's an explanation on how “B” and Jan were allowed to become so close that he often had time alone with her and even regularly slept in her bed. Basically, church members are seen as family, and trusted as family, even when disturbing evidence piles into a mountain of red flags.
At the same time, as in cases of sex abuse in other religions, perpetrators are often protected by the church, or only mildly reprimanded or relocated, while congregations are left in the dark. Berchtold had tried to victimize at least a half-dozen other young girls in that era and had been reprimanded by the LDS church in 1974. While we don't know what that reprimand consisted of, it certainly wasn't an excommunication – that consequence seems to more often be reserved for other issues, for example, questioning the church's troubling practices toward children. It also apparently wasn't an issue serious enough to warn other members of the church that this absolutely wasn't the best man to have sleep in your 11-year-old daughter's bed.
The Mormon church's beliefs could have also emboldened Berchtold's actions, or at least allowed him to rationalize or justify them. The man's first move after abducting Jan the first time is to take her to Mexico to marry her legally – as if officially marrying a 12-year-old girl who he drugged in order to take from her family made his repeated sexual assaults okay.
It's an idea that's echoed in another famous Mormon kidnapping case: that of Elizabeth Smart. When she was taken from her home by Brian David Mitchell in 2002, the man (who was raised Mormon) had a “marriage ceremony” with the 14-year-old before he raped her repeatedly over the next nine months. He also had a divine ”revelation that the celestial law of polygamy” had returned, and that he needed to take on multiple young, Mormon wives.
A similar thread also runs through the Brenda Lafferty double murders, which is discussed at length in Jon Krakauer's book, Under the Banner of Heaven. In that instance, delusional members of a cultish unofficial offshoot of the LDS church murder a Mormon woman and her baby, using twisted interpretations of the church's beliefs for their reasoning. In his book that looks at both the grisly crime and the history of Mormonism, Krakauer argues that sexual violence and violence against women is just a half-step away from the church's teachings, especially when mentally ill men enter the picture.
Young girls growing up in the church – and their families – are also likely much easier to groom. Their families are conveniently trusting, and the girls themselves can have their religious teachings used against them, especially since they are taught from a young age that 1) men are the leaders of the church and have authority and 2) that a woman's role is to listen to men, and to marry and procreate before all else.
Many Abducted in Plain Sight viewers were shocked to hear that “B” used a far-fetched story about aliens in order to get Jan to be more accepting of his sexual abuse – again, even the filmmaker Borgman found the story to be crazy. But for those in the Mormon faith, it wouldn't sound nearly as odd. The religion has a view of the universe that involves other populated planets in the universe and a rich celestial world that makes “B”‘s alien story, again, just a half-step away from what she may have heard on Sundays.
Brian David Mitchell also used both his maleness and Mormon teachings as he groomed and brainwashed Elizabeth Smart, from the moment he appeared in her bedroom in the middle of the night. When he attempted to kidnap and groom another young girl, he went straight to a Mormon church to do so, and started by befriending the girl's family.
Religion also explains another puzzling aspect of the Abducted in Plain Sight story: the silence of Jan's family, both after her first kidnapping and after Jan's return home. Jan's parents seemed in almost total denial that a church leader could be doing anything wrong with their child, and easily caved to pressure from “B”‘s wife (and possibly, through her, the church itself) not to involve authorities. When “B” later threatens to expose both parents' sexual involvement with “B”himself, the fear of that information reaching their community is enough for them to make false statements to the police about the kidnapping.
Finally, the parents' forgiveness of “B” after the first kidnapping – which many of us found incomprehensible as we watched – may have been possible in part because of the family's religious beliefs and “B”‘s shared religion. It's that forgiveness, paired with the church's failure to act, that allowed for the baffling continuation of abuse.
These aren't issues unique to the Mormon Church, of course. Sex abuse, and particularly child sex abuse, is rampant in numerous religious communities, most famously the Catholic Church, but certainly not just the Catholic Church. And the reasons are the same: blind faith in the church's leaders, a culture that puts men in power over women, a culture that makes sex education taboo, and religious organizations that put their reputation and brand over the safety of their followers.
Really, when you think about it, Abducted in Plain Sight isn't amazingly unbelievable at all. It's a common story of sexual abuse in a religious setting – and it makes all too much sense.
R. Kelly was one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Now he's facing sexual abuse charges that could send him to prison for life.
by Jacob Shamsian
R. Kelly was once one of the biggest pop stars in the world, with a streak of Billboard chart-topping albums.
Now he's charged with sexually abusing four women and could go to prison for the rest of his life.
One of those women, Jerhonda Pace, was a teenager when he met Kelly during his 2008 child pornography trial.
Here's the full, sordid story of Kelly's dramatic fall.
Two weeks before she turned 15 years old, Jerhonda Pace had the chance to meet one of her idols.
It was just before the summer of 2008, and R. Kelly would be making a public appearance near her home in Chicago. The R&B singer behind megahits like "Ignition (Remix)" and "I Believe I Can Fly," Kelly was one of the biggest musicians in the world. His past 10 albums had all landed on the No. 1 or No. 2 spot of the Billboard music chart.
In fact, Kelly would be there nearly every day for more than a month: He was on trial on 14 counts of making child pornography. According to prosecutors, Kelly had sex with a different 14-year-old girl, his goddaughter, and made a video of the whole thing.
In 2002, the video was left anonymously in the mailbox of Jim DeRogatis, a reporter who covered R. Kelly's alleged misdeeds for years at the Chicago Sun-Times. DeRogatis turned it over to police.
The prosecutors' story matched a pattern of allegations that have dogged Kelly throughout his career. In 1994, he married the R&B prodigy Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27 (the marriage was later annulled). And throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, five women sued him for sexual misconduct crimes, all of which were settled out of court. After he posted bond for the court case, in 2002, Kelly attended a kindergarten graduation ceremony and went up on stage to sing his hit song "The World's Greatest" with the kids.
Pace (then named Jerhonda Johnson) didn't think Kelly was guilty. His defense team had compared one of the witnesses who testified against him to Satan. The charges were just more of the many false accusations of bad behavior and sexual impropriety he faced at the time, she believed.
She cut class every day to see her hero in court, lying about her age to sheriffs standing guard outside the court because they didn't allow people under 18 to enter the courtroom.
Kelly noticed Pace watching him in the courtroom one day. He thanked her for being a fan.
"One day he stopped and said, 'Thank you for your support,' and said when it was over he would give me something," Pace told People. "He ended up giving me his autograph and later sent me a friend request on MySpace."
Pace attended the trial until the very end. She even watched the videotape in question, which was shown in the courtroom several times on a 4-by-4 foot monitor. It showed Kelly urinating in the girl's mouth and demanding she call him "daddy."
Jerhonda Pace, then known as Jerhonda Johnson, attended every day of Kelly's trial.
The jury eventually acquitted Kelly of all charges, finding that while he was in the video prosecutors presented, they couldn't be sure the female was his underage goddaughter. Pace agreed with their conclusion.
Flanked by bodyguards, Kelly saluted the crowd and put his hand over his heart as he left the courtroom. His next five albums also all landed on the No. 1 or No. 2 spot of Billboard's Hip Hop and R&B chart.
"They can't call him a pedophile anymore," Pace told MTV at the time. "They can't say he likes little girls. They don't have proof of that. Because he's innocent now. He's free."
Kelly started a domineering sexual relationship with the teenage fan he met at his trial, she later said
In May 2009, when Pace was 16, Kelly invited her to a party he hosted at his mansion in Olympia Fields, a Chicago suburb. He told her to tell everyone she was 19, she told BuzzFeed News years later, and gave her his number. On other occasions, the two hung out alone. Things quickly became sexual between them, and the two had sex repeatedly over the next seven months, she said.
Kelly used his power to his advantage, Pace said.
Here he was: One of the most famous musicians in the world, jetting around the country to perform in America's biggest stadiums and owning a lavish mansion outside her home city. His music was played every day on WGCI, Chicago's R&B station.
Pace hadn't even graduated high school. She started spending weekends at his place.
"I had to call him 'daddy,' and he would call me 'baby,'" Pace said. "He wanted me to have two pigtails, and I had to go out and find little schoolgirl outfits."
Read more: R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse after decades of accusations. Here are all the allegations against him.
Pace told BuzzFeed News that Kelly punished her if she broke Kelly's "rules," which dictated how she dressed, her phone use, and when she could shower, eat, use the bathroom, and leave his property. He slapped her, spit in her face, choked her until she fainted, and coached her on what to say to her mother, she told People. Pace's claims passed a polygraph test she took later.
Kelly forced Pace to have sex with him and other women, Pace said. One of the women, Pace told BuzzFeed News, was the same girl Kelly had sex with in the video at the center of his child pornography case. They repeatedly had threesomes, Pace said, and she recognized the other woman because she repeatedly watched the video in court.
Pace didn't stay in Kelly's good graces for long. By January 2010, the two fought when Kelly found her texting a friend, she said. She left his house for good.
Prosecutors recently charged Kelly with sexually abusing four women - including Pace
In 2017 - following a report that Kelly kept women in a "sex cult" against their wills - Johnson broke a nondisclosure agreement she signed with Kelly in 2010. She spoke to DeRogatis, who by then was investigating the allegations about Kelly for BuzzFeed News and the New Yorker. And she appeared on the Lifetime docuseries about him, "Surviving R. Kelly."
In the wake of DeRogatis's reporting, "Surviving R. Kelly," and the voices of around a dozen women who publicly accused Kelly of sexual abuse, authorities renewed their investigations into Kelly's sexual misconduct.
Prosecutors in Cook County formed four separate grand juries, one for each alleged victim they thought they could make a case for. On February 22, they filed the 10 charges against him, all for aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Each of the charges carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison. If Kelly is convicted on all counts, he could be there for the rest of his life.
One of the indictments identifies a victim by her initials, "J.P." It says that she was the victim of three of the ten criminal counts, which all happened between May 2009 and January 2010. The victim met R. Kelly getting his autograph after court one day during her trial, according to prosecutors. She saved one of the shirts she wore when he ejaculated on her and gave it to the Olympia Fields Police Department for DNA evidence.
DeRogatis later confirmed that "J.P." is Pace. The three other alleged victims haven't been publicly identified.
'A desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison'
The four grand jury cases could spell the beginning of an end for Kelly - one that's been coming for a long time.
Already, he is no longer the chart-topping hitmaker he once was. Kelly is 52 years old. And if he is convicted on all counts, he could go to prison for the rest of his life.
And Kelly's explosive interview with Gayle King on "CBS This Morning," which aired on Friday, did little to endear him to the public. At one point, he sobbed, stood up and stormed around the room, ranting and raving about the accusations.
"I didn't do this stuff! This is not me! I'm fighting for my life. You're killing me with this s---!" he shouted. "I gave you 30 years of my f---ing career, 30 years of my career," he said. "You're trying to kill me. You're killing me now. This is not about music - I'm trying to have a relationship with my kids. And I can't do it."
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is currently living with 21-year-old Azriel Clary and 23-year-old Joycelyn Savage, whose parents say they've been brainwashed to stay in Kelly's "sex cult." Kelly denied having sex with Clary when she was 17, as her parents have alleged, and told King that he's like other guys who date "five or six women" at a time.
Kelly also accused the women's parents of selling them to him, claiming they allowed their children to date him in exchange for money and music career guidance.
"What kind of father, what kind of mother, would sell their daughter to a man?" Kelly asked King. "How come it was OK for me to see them until they were getting no money from me?"
Both sets of parents denied asking for or receiving any money from Kelly.
"We have never received a penny from R. Kelly. We have never asked R. Kelly for money. And we never 'sold' our daughter to him or anyone else," Clary's parents said in a statement. "R. Kelly is a desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison. All of the victims and parents cannot be lying."
The renewed scrutiny of R. Kelly is part of a cultural shift with the #MeToo movement
Even before the recent indictments against Kelly, his empire had already begun to crumble.
After his 2008 child pornography trial, Kelly was still an enormously successful artist - but slightly less so. His albums started peaking at No. 4, 5, and 6 on the Billboard chart instead of No. 1. Critics greeted his 2015 album, "The Buffet," with a shrug. His 2016 Christmas album was delayed for two years and then flopped.
DeRogatis's stories about Kelly in the summer of 2017 also put a dent in Kelly's career. Later that year, his career spiraled down further following the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein, where more than 80 women publicly accused the Hollywood producer of sexual misconduct. The allegations shifted the way people think about sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. It spawned the #MeToo movement, which led to the downfall of Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Les Moonves, Matt Lauer, and Charlie Rose - and consequences for dozens of others. (Weinstein denies all allegations of sexual misconduct.)
Kelly didn't escape the renewed scrutiny. Three more accusers have come forward since DeRogatis's first BuzzFeed News exposé, including Pace. Kelly released the 19-minute song "I Admit" in June 2018, where he lashed out at DeRogatis and venues that canceled his concert dates. In the song, Kelly said he liked younger girls, but denied that it amounted to pedophilia. He also denied kidnapping, starving, or brainwashing anyone. To this day, Kelly denies all allegations of illegal sexual
It got worse. In October 2018, Andrea Kelly, who was married to the singer for 13 years, between 1996 and 2009, told ABC's "The View" that he physically abused her.
On one occasion, according to her recollection, he beat her in the back of his Hummer. The alleged attack made her think she would die and that he would "drive off with my body in the back seat," she said. On another occasion, he pinned her down to a bed after an argument and hog-tied her, she said.
"He took both of my arms behind me, tied them, and then attached my legs to my arms," Andrea Kelly said. "He hog-tied me and left me to the side of the bed. He actually fell asleep, and that's the only way I got away."
Andrea Kelly said she contemplated suicide, but couldn't bear to leave her three children with her husband. Instead, she sought a divorce and restraining order. (Kelly denies the abuse allegations.)
Kelly has fallen far from his superstar heights
The trial Kelly faced in 2008 may still haunt him. One of the new Cook County indictments identifies the victim by the initials "R.L." She was 14 years old at the time.
"R.L.," according to DeRogatis's reporting in the New Yorker, is the same woman allegedly in the tape at the center of the pedophilia case Kelly was tried for more than a decade ago.
Kelly has fallen in other ways, too. A judge ordered him to surrender his passport and avoid contact with anyone under the age of 18. And he was arrested again Wednesday for allegedly failing to pay Andrea Kelly $161,000 in child support payments. Kelly told King he has just $350,000 left in the bank.
In all, nine people have publicly accused Kelly of criminal sexual and physical conduct. Additionally, three of the four new indictments refer to individuals whose identities are still private, and DeRogatis's reporting refers to other women whose identities may not be publicly known.
This is where R. Kelly is now.
He was one the man who created sexy hits that rocked Billboard charts, concert stadiums, and club dance floors. He is now seen as a gross middle-aged man living with two women less than half his age.
His kids are estranged from him, and he says he can't pay child support.
He could soon go to trial on charges of criminal sexual abuse against four separate women.
One of the women may be the same person he went to trial over in 2008, having allegedly made a sex tape with her when she was 14.
Another woman is a former starry-eyed teenager he met in that courtroom's audience, where he stopped to give her his autograph
Canada - Jehovah's Witnesses
Quebec class action alleging sexual abuse in Jehovah's Witnesses gets green light
by Caroline St-Pierre, The Canadian Press
Quebec Superior Court has authorized a class action lawsuit against two Jehovah's Witnesses entities alleging a culture of silence within the group led to the covering up of sexual abuse.
The action was approved for current or former Jehovah's Witnesses who allege they were sexually assaulted as minors in Quebec by either an elder of the religious group or a fellow member.
Lisa Blais, a former follower of the religion, filed the motion in September 2017, alleging she was sexually assaulted by a member of the group when she was a child.
The Feb. 27 ruling authorizing the lawsuit cites Blais' allegation that Jehovah's Witnesses leaders sought to discourage Blais from reporting her assailant to police because she would have risked tarnishing the image of Jehovah.
“The plaintiff wants to sue the defendants for their failures regarding her protection and the dissuasion from reporting sexual assaults to police authorities, given the culture of silence present in the Jehovah's Witnesses community,” Justice Chantal Corriveau wrote.
Blais was expelled from the religious group in 1996.
In a written statement, the Jehovah's Witnesses public information desk said the class action was authorized on the basis of unproven allegations.
“We will consider our options for appeal but are certain if this matter proceeds to trial, the facts will clearly show Jehovah's Witnesses report allegations of abuse to the authorities, in line with the Youth Protection Act,” the statement said.
“The well-being of children is of utmost importance to Jehovah's Witnesses.”
The action seeks $150,000 in moral damages and $100,000 in punitive damages for each member of the class. It names the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the religion's main legal entity, as well as the Canadian branch.
“The class action does not call into question the beliefs conveyed,” she wrote. “However, it is possible to submit to the courts ways of doing things that may be faulty and cause harm to victims.”
Sarah Woods, a lawyer representing Blais, said she has been contacted by several other Jehovah's Witnesses but does not know how many people will ultimately be part of the class action. She also noted that the defendants have 30 days to appeal Corriveau's decision.
“I already have a lot of people who raised their hands, who want to be witnesses, who want to tell their stories, who know how it works …. The allegations will have to be supported with evidence, with questioning and a trial,” Woods said, adding that the process will take a few years.
Australian Tip Leads to Canadian Child Porn Bust
A tip from Queensland's elite pedophile hunting Task Force Argos has grown into a major child sexual assault and child pornography investigation in Canada with new alleged victims coming forward.
Alberta's Internet Child Exploitation Unit announced in January they had followed an Argos lead and charged Christopher Juneau of Eckville, Alberta, with child pornography, possessing child pornography, accessing child pornography, and voyeurism.
Extensive media coverage of Juneau's arrest led to other potential victims contacting Canadian authorities and Juneau now faces 73 charges.
At least eight child victims have been identified, ICE said.
Authorities said they were able to identify some of the additional victims through forensic analysis of Juneau's computers and other seized electronic devices.
Forensic analysis of Juneau's phone and computers are yet to be completed but authorities allege they have so far found more than half a million images and videos of child sexual exploitation and voyeurism.
Juneau, 34, has remained in custody since his January arrest.
Queensland's Task Force Argos is a world leader in investigating online child exploitation and abuse and regularly inform authorities in other nations about potential pedophiles they have detected.
Authorities are urging anyone with information about Juneau, or any cases related to child sexual exploitation, to contact them.
Qld AFP Officer Loses Child Porn Appeal
Around a month ago, another instance of child pornography was brought to light.
An Australian Federal Police officer failed to convince a court he shouldn't have been jailed for accessing child pornography because most of the images were cartoons.
Gregory Paul Edwards's offending came to light when he submitted an AFP internal integrity report in January 2017, saying he had accidentally viewed explicit material while in a public chat room.
However, an analysis of his computer found he had also used the internet to access child pornography 31 times over a four-month period earlier that year.
He pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to access child pornography in the Brisbane District Court late last year, and was ordered to serve two months of a 15-month jail term.
Edwards took his case to the Court of Appeal, arguing he shouldn't have served actual jail time because most of the images were graphic representations or cartoons of children.
His lawyer argued the material was a “victimless crime” because no children were used in depicting them.
However, the Court of Appeal on Feb. 12 rejected this argument, saying the cartoons still normalise exploitative behaviour and fuel the demand for such material.
The court also noted that 33 images and videos viewed by Edwards involved real children being abused.
“The sentence imposed on the applicant cannot be demonstrated to be manifestly excessive,” Justice Philip Morrison wrote in his judgment
Policy takes drug testing out of child welfare worker's control, places the decision on substance abuse experts
It's a change that has child welfare advocates concerned children will fall through the cracks.
A change in Nebraska's drug testing policy in child welfare cases has advocates concerned, and DHHS officials holding their own.
It revolves around who decides if parents being investigated for child abuse can be tested for drug use.
A scenario recovering drug addict Taisa Brumagen has lived through.
She started using narcotics at 14-years-old.
"It took over my life,” Brumagen said.
She hid it for years. Until the police came knocking on her door with a search warrant. She was arrested and her kids were taken away.
“They weren't taken care of, they weren't my priority, the drug was,” Brumagen said.
Drug testing was immediately required.
"I had to call in every morning to the UA line and see if my color was called and if it was I would do a drug test,” Brumagen said.
The new policy puts the decision to drug test parents in the hands of substance abuse experts.
"Our policy first and foremost assures the safety of kids,” Nebraska's children and family services director, Matt Wallen said.
First they'll assess whether or not the child is safe to stay in the home, then the parent will be referred to the expert for an assessment, Wallen said.
"Part of the assessment is to diagnose the disorder, figure out how deep it is and the treatment process can be clinically driven,” Wallen said.
At that point the medical professional can recommend drug testing.
Juvenile court judge Roger Heideman said that's not enough.
"The provider makes the recommendation for the parent only and are not taking the child into consideration and that creates an issue of safety for the child,” Heideman said.
He said child welfare workers drug test parents for different reasons that substance abuse centers.
"We are using it to ensure first that parents are remaining sober so the kids and remain at home or return home,” Heideman said. “To make sure the parents are still having proper treatment, so if they're still using they may need more and if they're maintaining abstinent that's used as encouragement to keep sober."
Wallen, said this will all still happen under the new policy if medical experts think its best.
"We want the parent to be accountable, we want the parents to be successful but a clinician who is an expert is going to be the best at guiding frequency of testing, pace of recovery and necessary steps,” Wallen said.
The both agree that accountability is vital.
"If I didn't test I could have still been using and it wouldn't have to be known, to have to go and do a urine analysis and show the system I'm not using is where my honesty started,” she said.
She said if she wasn't drug tested two of her three children wouldn't be with her, and if given the right treatment other parents can achieve this same goal.
"You can get your kids back, you can live life after drugs,” Brumagen said. “You can be a mom after drugs."
Sucked into a mental health system black hole — the dark reality of abuse, addiction
A portrait of Josie, the mother of a drug addict with mental health problems
When Aiia Maasarwe's lifeless body was found in scrub near a Bundoora tram stop, Josie's daughter had been missing for days.
Had her youngest child not called home at dawn that morning, the Melbourne mother would have mistakenly rushed to claim the dead young woman as her own.
While other parents rejoice in the new era of early adulthood, Josie lives in constant fear someone will kill her mentally ill, drug-addicted daughter.
A bad trip on DMT at a Bacchus Marsh bush doof sent her spiralling into psychosis at the age of 18, with a dream-like conviction she would only wake from her "coma" in death.
Suicide attempts, spells in psychiatric wards and electric shock therapy followed — now she is hostage to an ice habit, dying for a smoke.
In the battle to simultaneously treat her 24-year-old daughter's illness and addiction, Josie feels like she has fallen into a mental health system "black hole".
She longs for some kind of cosmic coincidence so her daughter gets off the streets and past the "glorified holding pen" of hospital admissions.
"It's like a solar eclipse," she says.
"I have to make sure that the moon and the sun and the stars all align, so that when a bed is available my daughter is willing and able to go."
The Victorian Government plans to double the number of public drug residential rehabilitation beds from 208 in 2015 to 492, but desperate parents are still turning to costly private clinics, in a bid to save their children from a life of drug abuse and crime.
In Josie's case, an $8,000 trip to a dual diagnosis clinic in Thailand came to an abrupt end when an ice dealer slipped in.
Her daughter disappeared, but after frantic calls to embassy staff she was finally coaxed onto a plane home.
Stuck in a revolving hospital door
When her daughter's boyfriend was jailed for a three-day road-rage rampage last year, Josie felt a pang of jealousy.
"I was jealous that he was going to get clean and my daughter is still a drug addict," she says.
In Victoria, the experts appointed to run the state's Mental Health Royal Commission are being urged address the largely split systems of drug and mental health services and find better ways to coordinate care.
For Josie, her daughter's psychosis and substance abuse are inextricably linked, but sobriety setbacks and hospital staff stir feelings of stigma and shame.
Discharged in a medicated daze with directions from hospital to homeless shelters, the temptation to skip the whole rigamarole and call a dealer is hard to resist.
"I'm told there are genuinely mentally ill people who need a bed, but your daughter is a drug addict so she can't stay," Josie says.
"I just want my daughter to have a chance. In the meantime, all we're doing is putting together broken pieces."
Josie is calling for court-enforced inpatient drug rehab to break the vicious cycle of benders, broken promises and psych wards.
As a last resort, she hopes to enact seldom-used legislation compelling people whose lives are in danger as a result of severe substance dependence to have compulsory treatment.
A review found just 23 people were detained and treated under the Severe Substance Dependence Treatment Act in the four years to 2015.
For now her daughter is stuck in a revolving door, roaming Melbourne's streets until someone comes to the rescue.
"I've walked into heroin dens to pick her up. We've been in the hands of drug lords, it's a whole world of ugliness. I just want to keep her safe while she's in a storm," Josie says.
"What kind of life would I have knowing that while I'm sitting here in my pretty home my daughter is on the streets?
"I feel like she's prey out there. I wait for the knock on the door."
Suffering, self-help and survival
A young woman with pink-blonde hair and blue eyes look sits on a couch in her home.
Elizabeth's schoolmates nicknamed her "Smiley" because of her bubbly personality.
But a determination to grin and bear it and a full face of make-up masked the pain she endured during a decade of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of her father.
Elizabeth ran away from home at the age of 17, finding short-lived salvation at school by winning a university scholarship as she couch-surfed her way around town.
"It wasn't until after school when the bell rang that I remembered I had nowhere to go," she says.
Bingeing on booze and passing out at house parties helped numb the pain, or dark nights asleep in a train station toilet-turned-safe-haven.
While homework once meant spelling and sums, Elizabeth spent countless after-school hours with police preparing to prosecute, culminating in a gruelling court case that took the ultimate toll.
Straight after her father was sentenced to 18 years jail in 2009, Elizabeth drank, dosed up on Xanax and threw herself in front of a car on the Nepean Highway, in one of more than a dozen suicide attempts that left her hospitalised.
"Eventually I would have succeeded, but then I found drugs, harder drugs," she says.
A puff of crystal and a propensity to gravitate towards down-and-outs left Elizabeth in the grip of a crippling ice addiction akin to a backstabbing best friend.
Homeless and weighing just 45 kilograms, she sought refuge in a recycling bin she accidentally set alight.
The next morning, burnt and on the brink, Elizabeth sought help.
A stint in drug detox and an agonising month in self-imposed isolation from other ice-addled public housing tenants held the key to a sober living house.
"They were the hardest 30 days of my life. I just sat in pain, in immense mental pain," she says.
"It's like my cup was full, completely full, and one little extra drop of stress in that cup would make it overflow. I just couldn't cope."
'A drain on the system'
Elizabeth's story of suffering and survival has given rise to a new sense of self-worth, and a yearning to fix Victoria's mental health system failures.
Repeatedly sent away from hospital emergency departments at crisis point, she felt judged at every turn.
"I felt like I was a drain on the system and they didn't have the time, the skills or the funds to deal with me," Elizabeth says.
"The whole system is geared against helping people recover. It's just band-aid solutions, which is what drugs are anyway. It's no wonder people just use drugs."
She wants an end to ghetto-style public housing that triggered a fight or flight response, torpedoing any chance of recovery.
Like a soldier returning from war, Elizabeth is still on guard, living with the flashbacks and nightmares of post-traumatic stress disorder.
But this week she celebrates three years clean and sober.
"The opposite of addiction is connection. I'm a different person now. I can face the wreckage of my past and put it behind me," Elizabeth says
Child molesting victim: 'I will never fully recover'
According to most recent CDC statistics, an estimated 1 in 4 children in America experience maltreatment at some point in their lives. Here is what to do if you suspect child abuse and how to report it.
LAFAYETTE — Sixty-two-year-old child molester Douglas Richard Felix has more than 22 years in prison to replay his victim's heart-wrenching words in his head.
"He's caused my life to become hell," the victim said on an audio recording played Thursday during Felix's sentencing hearing. "What he did can never be undone. I will never fully recover from what he has done to me."
The recording is the last time Felix will hear the voice of his victim — a family member. And the sentencing hearing is likely the last time he'll see any of his family members.
Felix received a 30-year prison sentence Thursday afternoon. With credit for good behavior, he'll serve 22 ½ years in prison, making him 84 when he is released.
Police here arrested Felix in February 2018 after six charges of child molesting were filed.
Felix pleaded guilty on Dec. 18 to a Level 1 felony of child molesting. The other counts were dismissed.
The plea agreement left the sentencing up to the court, but required the sentence be no less than 20 years in prison and no more than 30 years.
Tippecanoe Superior 2 Judge Steve Meyer quoted from an adult family member who submitted a letter to the court.
"You no longer are a person who should have the right to walk in free society," the family member wrote.
The girl, who now is 16, was too young at the time of the abuse to understand that Felix's touches were sexual or wrong, and her complete trust in him meant she didn't understand that the sex acts were not appropriate, she said on the audio recording.
She learned Felix's behavior was abuse during her during a 90-minute interview with investigators, she said.
She left that interview confused, depressed and feeling betrayed, the victim said on the tape. She now battles daily with depression and has trouble trusting people, she said on the audio recording.
The girl and her family visited Felix and his family at his rural West Lafayette home every summer. And every summer starting at a young age, Felix abused her, according to the probable cause affidavit and a vague timeline during sentencing.
The abuse happened so frequently that the victim has difficulty recalling single acts of abuse, she said on the audio tape. The memories of the abuse, which haunt her and bring her to tears, all seem to blur together, she said.
Felix also faces child molesting charges in New Hampshire.
"The blissful, innocent world she had been living in is gone," the girl's stepmother wrote in a letter to the court. "Her childhood is stolen from her. He's stolen her innocence."
Meyer characterized Felix's behavior as horrible, reminding Felix that his choices destroyed a family.
Felix's attorney, Michael Troemel, pointed to Felix's military service, honorable discharge and top-secret clearance as a possible mitigating factor to consider in deciding Felix's sentence.
Felix hung his head and nodded in agreement as Meyer pointed out that Felix's behavior dishonors veterans.
Given an opportunity to make a statement during the sentencing hearing, Felix chose to remain silent.
After the sentencing hearing, the victim's family chose not to be interviewed by the Journal & Courier.
Childhood abuse increases risk of adult suicide, finds research
Largest study of its kind shows ‘devastating' impact of sexual, physical and emotional abuse
Denis Campbell, Health policy editor
People who experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse as children are two to three times more likely to kill themselves as adults, new research has found.
Experts said the findings confirmed the “devastating effects” of child abuse on mental wellbeing, while one suicide charity said 70% of people who had either tried to take their own life or who had thought about it had been abused.
People who were sexually abused as a child were three times more likely than others to try to kill themselves, according to the new study in Psychological Medicine.
And people who were either physically or emotionally abused or neglected in childhood were two and a half times more likely to try to end their lives.
The findings come from research undertaken by academics at the University of Manchester and South Wales University, who analysed the results of 68 previous studies on the subject from around the world.
Dr Maria Panagioti, from Manchester University who led the research, said about “one adult in every three has experienced abuse as a child. This study conclusively gives us solid evidence that childhood abuse and neglect is associated with increased likelihood that they will be at risk of suicide as adults.”
The authors said the paper was the most comprehensive review of the evidence underlying the issue. The 68 studies were based on the experiences of 216,600 adults in countries including the US, Canada and Italy, while two of the studies were from the UK.
The paper said: “We conclude that there is solid evidence that childhood maltreatment is associated with increased odds for suicidality in adults.
“All types of childhood abuse are associated with increased risk for suicide attempts and suicidal ideation in adults independent of demographic, clinical and methodological variations across the studies.”
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, the chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, says many children cannot get help early in their lives to prevent and recover from abuse.
Men and women were equally likely to think about suicide or act on suicidal impulses, while the risk of suicide rose as the person aged, they found. Those not in contact with mental health services were at the greatest risk.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, the chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “This study confirms the long-term and devastating effects of child abuse.
“Psychiatrists working on the frontline of mental health care witness the damage this causes to children, adolescents and adults on a daily basis.”
Many children cannot get help early in their lives both to prevent them suffering abuse and and to start to recover from its consequences, she added.
Ged Flynn, the chief executive of the charity Papyrus, which works to prevent young people taking their own lives, said: “It is no surprise to us that this study shows that historical abuse contributes to some people experiencing thoughts of suicide.
“Around 70% of calls to our helpline cite childhood abuse of various sorts, some of which are still current. This can include sexual, emotional, financial abuse as well as neglect.”
Flynn stressed that, with the right support, many people who think about suicide can find hope, regardless of how much pain or distress they are in.
from Psychology Today
Why Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse Don't Disclose
Six reasons why adult victims of child sexual abuse continue to keep the secret.
by Beverly Engel L.M.F.T.
As the recent HBO documentary entitled Leaving Neverland so powerfully demonstrated, there are many adults who have yet to tell anyone that they were sexually abused as a child—not their partners, not their friends, not their family members, often not even their therapist. Many of us are familiar with the reasons why children do not come forward to report child sexual abuse, but many don't understand why adults continue to carry this secret, sometimes to their graves. I have been counseling adult victims of child sexual abuse for the past 35 years. In this article I will discuss many of the reasons why some adults continue to keep silent when it comes to being a victim of child sexual abuse.
Many former victims of child sexual abuse are confused as to whether they were, in fact, sexually abused. This can be due to a lack of understanding as to what constitutes sexual abuse since many people are misinformed as to what child sexual abuse actually is. For example, many people think of childhood sexual abuse as an adult having intercourse with a child—penetration of a penis inside a vagina or in the case of male on male sexual abuse, a male penetrating the child's anus. But most childhood sexual abuse does not involve intercourse. Also, many people think of childhood sexual abuse as being an adult molesting a child. But childhood sexual abuse also includes an older child molesting a younger child. Child sexual abuse includes any contact between an adult and a child or an older child and a younger child for the purposes of sexual stimulation of either the child or the adult or older child and that results in sexual gratification for the older person. This can range from non-touching offenses, such as exhibitionism and showing child pornography, to fondling or oral sex, penetration and child prostitution.
As the young men in Leaving Neverland explained, they did not realize they had been sexually abused until they were in their thirties. Instead, they considered what (allegedly) occurred between themselves and Michael Jackson as a love affair in which they consented to all the activities that occurred. This kind of thinking is common for former victims of child sexual abuse. It wasn't until one of the young men had a child of his own that he came to realize he had happened to him. When he thought of someone doing to his son what had been done to him it suddenly dawned on him that he had been abused. “I'd kill anyone who did that to my son. Why didn't I feel anything when I thought about what Michael did to me?” the young man shared. This lack of awareness and the inability to connect with and have empathy for themselves as a child is not uncommon in former victims of child sexual abuse.
Another issue that may add to the confusion is the issue of receiving pleasure. Although there is often physical pain involved with child sexual abuse, it isn't necessarily the case. For some victims, there is no physical pain at all. And victims have often reported experiencing some physical pleasure, even with the most violent and sadistic types of sexual abuse. This confuses victims, causing them to believe that perhaps they gave consent or may have even instigated the sexual involvement. The reasoning goes like this, “If my body responded (a pleasurable sensation, an orgasm, an erection) it must mean that I wanted it.”
It is very important to understand that experiencing physical pleasure does not signify consent. Our bodies are created to respond to physical touch, no matter who is doing the touching. And many victims of abuse were so deprived of affection that they spontaneously accept and respond to any physical attention, no matter what its source.
Another reason why many question whether they were really abused is that they may not have a clear memory of what happened. They may have only vague memories or no memories at all, just a strong suspicion based on their feelings and perhaps their symptoms. It's difficult to believe your feelings when you have no or very few actual memories. Some people will even doubt the memories they do have, fearing that “I'm just imagining” or “I'm making this up.”
One reason why someone may have no memories or only vague memories is the common practice of victims to dissociate. Dissociation is a disconnection between a person's thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of who he or she is. This is a normal phenomenon that everyone has experienced. Examples of mild, normal dissociation include daydreaming, “highway hypnosis,” or “getting lost” in a book or movie, all of which involve “losing touch” with an awareness of one's immediate surroundings.
During traumatic experiences such as crime, victimization, abuse, accidents or other disasters, dissociation can help a person tolerate something that might otherwise be too difficult to bear. In situations like these, the person may dissociate the memory from the place, circumstances, and feelings caused by the overwhelming event, mentally escaping from the fear, pain, and horror of the event.
When faced with an overwhelming situation from which there is no physical escape, a child may learn to “go away” in her head. Children typically use this ability as a defense against physical and emotional pain or fear of that pain. For example, when a child is being sexually abused, in order to protect herself from the repeated invasion of her deepest inner self she may turn off the connection between her mind and her body creating the sensation of “leaving one's body.” This common defense mechanism helps the victim to survive the assault by numbing herself or otherwise separating herself from the trauma occurring to the body. In this way, although the child's body is being violated, the child does not have to actually “feel” what is happening to her. Many victims have described this situation as “being up on the ceiling, looking down on my own body” as the abuse occurred. It is as though the abuse is not happening to them as a person but just to their body.
While dissociation helps the victim to survive the violation, it can make it difficult to later remember the details of the experience. This can create problems when it comes to a victim coming to terms with whether or not they were actually abused. If you were not in your body when the abuse occurred it will naturally affect your memory. You won't “remember” the physical sensations of what the abuser did to your body or what you were made to do to the abuser's body. This can cause you to doubt your memory and add to your tendency to deny what occurred.
Sometimes the reason victims don't have clear memories of the abuse is that they were drugged or plied with alcohol by the abuser. It is actually rather common for perpetrators to sedate their victims with alcohol or drugs as a way of gaining control of them and of ensuring that they will not tell anyone about the abuse. Victims who were sedated often describe their memories as “fuzzy” or have only short “snapshots” of memories that they may have a difficult time making sense of.
Some victims of child sexual abuse deny that they were abused, others deny that it caused them any harm, while still others deny that they need help. There are many reasons for this denial, one of the most significant is that victims don't want to face the pain, fear, and shame that comes with admitting that they were sexually abused.
Like dissociation, denial is a defense mechanism designed to prevent us from facing things that are too painful to face at the time. It can even allow us to block out or “forget” intense pain caused by emotional or physical trauma such as childhood sexual abuse. But denial can also prevent us from facing the truth and can continue way past the time when it served a positive function. This is what my former client Natasha shared with me: “I knew for a long time before admitting it in here that I was abused by my grandfather. But I just couldn't face it. It was just too painful to admit to myself that someone I loved so much and someone who had been so kind to me could also do such vile things to me. And so I pretended it never happened.”
Another reason some people deny that they were sexually abused is that it forces them to admit that they became abusive themselves as a consequence of having been abused. If a former victim went on to abuse other children he may have an investment in believing that children are never really “forced or manipulated” into sex with an adult or older child. He may convince himself that children do so willingly and that they get pleasure from the abuse. This kind of denial often keeps former victims from admitting that they themselves were abused.
There are many legitimate reasons for former victims to be afraid to tell someone they were sexually abused, even as adults. These include:
- Their perpetrator threatened them. It is common for child molesters to threaten to kill their victims if they tell or to kill family members or beloved pets. Even though being afraid of their perpetrator after becoming an adult may not make any logical sense, it is very common for former victims to continue to fear their abuser.
- They are afraid they will not be believed. This fear is especially potent when a former victim has had the experience of not being believed in the past. And often, the belief that they will not be believed often comes from the perpetrator telling them things like, “No one will believe you if you do tell.'
- They are afraid of the consequences once the secret is out. such as the family being disrupted or violence occurring. Some former victims fear that if they tell a family member about being abused that person will become enraged and perhaps become violent toward the perpetrator
Any time someone is victimized he or she will feel shame because they feel helpless and this feeling of helplessness causes the victim to feel humiliated. There is also the shame that comes when a child's body is invaded in such an intimate way by an adult. Add to this the shame associated with being involved with something that the child knows is taboo. Sometimes a child also feels shame when her body “betrays” her by responding to the touch of the perpetrator.
This overwhelming feeling of shame often causes a former victim to feel compelled to keep the secret of the abuse because he or she feels so bad, dirty, damaged, or corrupted. The feeling of shame can be one of the most powerful deterrents to a victim disclosing having been abused. This is what one former client shared with me about her shame about being abused: “I didn't tell anyone when my drama teacher started abusing me because I felt so humiliated that I didn't want anyone else to know about it. I felt disgusting, the lowest of the low. I guess most of all I felt so much shame about the things he did to me and made me do to him that I didn't feel I deserved to be helped.”
Self-blame is another major reason why victims keep their secret. Victims tend to blame themselves for the abuse they suffered, especially when it is a parent who sexually abused them. Children want to feel loved and accepted by their parents and because of this, they will make up all kinds of excuses for a parent's behavior, even if that behavior is abusive. Most often children blame themselves for “causing” their parent to abuse them. Why? Because children naturally tend to be egocentric—that is, they assume that they themselves are the cause of everything. Needing to protect their attachment to their parents magnifies this tendency.
Perpetrators take advantage of a child's tendency to blame themselves by telling the child it was their fault. They shouldn't have sat in his lap the way they did. They shouldn't have looked at him the way they did. They shouldn't have dressed the way they did.
We as humans have a need to maintain a sense of control over our lives, even when we have lost control, as in the case of child sexual abuse. As a way of maintaining a false sense of control, many victims will blame themselves for their abuse. This occurs both in children at the time of their abuse as well as with adults who are still struggling with admitting they were abused in childhood. The unconscious reasoning is like this: “If I continue to believe it was my own fault, that I brought this on myself, I can still be in control. I don't have to face the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness that comes with being victimized. In other words, I can maintain my sense of dignity and avoid feeling humiliated.”
Sometimes victims blame themselves for the abuse because they hold the perpetrator in such high esteem. They couldn't imagine that this respected person would do such a thing to them unless they had somehow encouraged it in some way. This was the situation with my former client Gabriel. Coming from a devout Catholic family, Gabriel became an altar boy when he was nine years old. Like the rest of the parishioners, Gabriel adored the priest. That is why it was particularly shocking to Gabriel when one day the priest asked him to stay after mass and then sexually molested him.
Gabriel could not comprehend what the priest had done. He knew that what had happened was a sin and that priests were not supposed to be sexual. So in order to make sense of what had happened, he simply blamed himself. Somehow, he decided, he must have seduced the priest. He even believed that since he had begun to masturbate a few months earlier, the priest must have known about this and was punishing him or teaching him a lesson.
Finally, another reason victims tend to blame themselves is our culture's tendency to blame the victim. “Victim” has become a dirty word in our culture, where victims are often blamed and even shamed. There are even spiritual beliefs that hold that if something bad happens to you it is because of your own negative thoughts or attitudes. Cultural influences like this serve to blame victims rather than encourage a self-compassionate acknowledgment of suffering. Former victims of sexual abuse as members of this culture accept this view, often without question.
A Need to Protect the Perpetrator
As evidenced by the behavior and thinking of the two young men in the Leaving Neverland documentary, some former victims still care about the perpetrator and want to protect him or her. In addition, as part of the grooming process, perpetrators work to separate the child or adolescent from their parents and their peers, typically fostering in the child a sense that he or she is special to the offender and giving a kind of attention or love to the child that he or she needs. Sometimes the initial relationship of trust between a child and an adult or older child transforms so gradually into one of sexual exploitation that the child barely notices it. Between the time when the attention a child is receiving seems to be something positive in the child's life and the moment when the sexual abuse begins, something significant has occurred. But the child may not be sure what it was and often remains confused about the person who has been significant to him but has now begun to abuse him. They can be plagued with questions such as: “Does he really love me?” “Could I have caused these things to happen?”
For many former victims, it is only after many months or even years of therapy before they develop enough trust in someone to tell their secret. Unfortunately, for various reasons, many former victims never make it to a therapist, even as adults.
If you are one of the many people who continue to carry the secret of childhood sexual abuse, it is vital that you break your silence. Even though it is difficult to reach the point where you can finally tell someone, this dark secret can make you sick, emotionally, psychologically, even physically. Like cancer, it can eat at you from inside, draining you of vital energy and good health.
The secret of child sexual abuse is especially shaming. It can make you feel like there is something seriously wrong with you; that you are inferior or worthless. You want to hide for fear of your secret being exposed. You don't want to look other people in the eye for fear that they will discover who you really are and what you have done. You don't want people to get too close for fear of them finding out your dark secret. And to make matters worse, carrying around this secret isolates you from other people. It makes you feel different from others. It makes you feel alone.
There is already a tremendous amount of darkness connected to child sexual abuse: the clandestine, sinister way it is accomplished; the manipulation and dishonesty surrounding it; the lies and deception used to keep it a secret; the darkness and pain surrounding the violation of a child's most intimate parts of his or her body; and the violation of the child's integrity. Keeping the abuse a secret adds darkness to an already dark and sinister act.
When you don't share the secret of child sexual abuse you don't have the opportunity to receive the support, understanding and healing you so need and deserve. You continue to feel alone and to blame yourself. You continue to be overwhelmed with fear and shame.
I urge anyone who is still struggling because they can't tell anyone about their victimization to seek counseling. You can also call RAINN at (800) 656-4673 to talk to a counselor.
- If you are female, please read my upcoming book “I'm Saying No!” Standing Up Against Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Pressure for information on how to stop blaming and shaming yourself for being a victim of child sexual abuse.
- If you are male, I will provide a follow-up post specifically addressing the reasons why males have a difficult time revealing their sexual abuse.
Online: Beverly Engel
Beverly Engel has been a psychotherapist for over 30 years and is the author of 20 books, including 'The Emotionally Abusive Relationship' and 'The Right to Innocence'.
from Dale Hemming (see OPINION below)
Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert'
by Michael Baggs
A Gillette advertisement which references bullying, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity has split opinion online.
The razor company's short film, called Believe, plays on their famous slogan "The best a man can get", replacing it with "The best men can be".
The company says it wants men to hold each other "accountable".
Some have praised the message of the advert, which aims to update the company's 30-year-old tagline, but others say Gillette is "dead" to them.
The ad has been watched more than 2 million times on YouTube in 48 hours. It currently has 23,000 likes and 214,000 dislikes, at time of writing - and that's increasing all the time.
In it, the company asks "Is this the best a man can get?" before showing images of bullying, sexual harassment, sexist behaviour and aggressive male behaviour.
It then shows examples of more positive behaviour - such as stepping into prevent these behaviours when they happen in public.
Comments on the video are largely negative, with viewers saying they will never buy Gillette products again or that the advert was "feminist propaganda".
"In less than two minutes you managed to alienate your biggest sales group for your products. Well done?," wrote one angry viewer.
Twitter users are also sharing their disappointment with Gillette's new campaign.
There have also been calls for Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, to post an apology video.
But the brand believes the new advert aligns with its slogan and says it believes in "the best in men."
"By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come," says its president, Gary Coombe.
The advert was directed by Kim Gehrig from the UK-based production company Somesuch, who also directed the 2015 campaign for Sport England, This Girl Can.
Gillette has partnered with the Building A Better Man project, which seeks to reduce violent behaviour in men, and The Boys and Girls Club of America, which helps young men develop better social and communication skills. It's also donating $1m (around £778,000) a year for the next three years to US charities aimed at supporting men.
'They must have known there would be backlash'
But while the response to the ad has been largely negative, as the old saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
"Their next steps are very important but it shouldn't necessarily be widespread panic yet," Rob Saunders, an account manager at UK advertising company the Media Agency Group, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
"Their ad is getting them good publicity and good numbers and causing a debate - which they must have known when they put out this ad.
Rob says Gillette will have anticipated a negative reaction to the advert from some people.
"This ad would have been approved by many people high up at Gillette," he adds.
"So they must have known that there may have been a backlash."
Rob believes the strong reaction is because the ad is such a shift from how Gillette was previously promoted and that has surprised people.
"It's such a change in stance for Gillette and it's happening overnight, particularly with the social commentary and that's why it's done such huge numbers."
'This conversation needs to happen'
But alongside the negative reaction to the brand's new message, there has also been widespread praise for its attempt to join the debate on what it means to be a modern man.
"We knew that joining the dialogue on 'Modern Manhood' would mean changing how we think about and portray men at every turn," adds Gary Coombe.
"Effective immediately, Gillette will review all public-facing content against a set of defined standards meant to ensure we fully reflect the ideals of Respect, Accountability and Role Modelling in the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and more.
"For us, the decision to publicly assert our beliefs while celebrating men who are doing things right was an easy choice that makes a difference."
from Dale Hemming, NAASCA family member
Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert'
A Gillette advert which references bullying, the #MeToo movement and toxic masculinity has split opinion online.
The razor company's short film, called Believe, plays on their famous slogan "The best a man can get", replacing it with "The best men can be". The company says it wants men to hold each other "accountable". Some have praised the message of the advert, which aims to update the company's 30-year-old tagline, but others say Gillette is "dead" to them.
The ad has been watched more than 2 million times on YouTube in 48 hours. It currently has 23,000 likes and 214,000 dislikes, at time of writing - and that's increasing all the time. In it, the company asks "Is this the best a man can get?" before showing images of bullying, sexual harassment, sexist behaviour and aggressive male behaviour.
It then shows examples of more positive behaviour - such as stepping into prevent these behaviours when they happen in public. Comments on the video are largely negative, with viewers saying they will never buy Gillette products again or that the advert was "feminist propaganda".
(Webmaster's comment: All the brute males rally around their favorite things; bullying and beating women!)
"In less than two minutes you managed to alienate your biggest sales group for your products. Well done?," wrote one angry viewer. Twitter users are also sharing their disappointment with Gillette's new campaign. There have also been calls for Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, to post an apology video. But the brand believes the new advert aligns with its slogan and says it believes in "the best in men." "By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come," says its president, Gary Coombe.
(Webmaster's comment: It's about time all good men stood up against all the brute males! Shun them!)
Massachusetts State Auditor Finds Widespread Rape and Sexual Abuse in Foster Care but DCF Officials Won't Report It
by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
The theoretical function of Child Protective Services is to “protect” children from harm, removing them from their homes when they are being hurt. A deep-seated value of Western culture is that we need to protect children from abuse, and the public has overwhelmingly supported the use of tax dollars going to help the children who are being abused.
But what happens when the very agency charged with protecting children is, in reality, leading to or ignoring the physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and even deaths of the children in their care? Is anyone held accountable?
Where do their victims turn when social workers assigned to protect them turn a deaf ear and a blind eye?
Hundreds of parents who have spoken with Health Impact News about their child or children being taken from them have asked how they can lose their child though they have done nothing wrong, while at the same time the social workers routinely ignore the abuse of their children in foster care.
On December 7, 2017, Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump released an appalling audit of her state's Child Protective Services, the Department of Children and Families (DCF). (See text of audit here.)
The audit, which covered 2014 and 2015, found that there were many instances where children in state care, whether in foster homes or group homes or other facilities under DCF care, were abused physically or sexually, but DCF failed to report the incidents to the proper authorities.
In the week following the release of the audit, many news outlets, both mainstream and alternative, have carried the story, and the ensuing political battle between Bump's office and Massachusetts' Governor Charlie Baker.
Conservative Review journalist Rob Eno references Michelle Malkin Investigates ‘coverage of the Medical Kidnapping' of Justina Pelletier and compares it to the audit:
This new report raises serious questions on the motivations and ability of government agencies in general to protect children. Instead of kidnapping children for disagreements over medical treatment, these government child welfare agencies should focus on their core mission.
DCF – Sexual Abuse by Fosters Happening but “Not Serious”
The Ad Council tells us, “You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” in their campaign to entice more people to become foster parents. The audit report in Massachusetts reveals that this statement is sometimes taken to the extreme with regards to even the most flawed of foster parents, while children can be removed from their parents for sometimes the slightest of imperfections by the real parents.
Some of the grounds that have been used by Child Protective Services to take children include disagreeing with a doctor, refusing vaccines, having dirty dishes in the sink or laundry on the floor in the laundry room, having a child that was “too short,” getting the electricity turned off for a day, getting a 2nd medical opinion, parents having a verbal disagreement with each other, being a foster child themselves, or having a homebirth. The lists of allegations are often filled with made-up stories or minor incidents twisted into something much more serious than they were.
Yet, when it comes to children who are abused by the fosters that are paid by taxpayers to care for the children who are being “protected” from their “dangerous” parents, that abuse isn't considered worthy to report.
DCF officials told Auditor Suzanne Bump that they don't see sexual abuse as a serious enough problem that they need to report it. According to Western Mass News,
The problem: “Sexual abuse to children is not considered to be a critical incident because DCF, in their own words, did not consider sexual abuse to cause serious bodily harm or extreme physical pain. I can't comprehend that response,” Bump added. Bump's office found 118 incidents of sexual abuse of a child in DCF care that were not reported to the office of the child advocate. She said that reporting these incidents hinders the protection of children.
EDITOR"S NOTE: Please see original page, below, for many more aspects to this issue.
‘The 5 Browns' Review: United by Music and Scarred by Sexual Abuse
by Glenn Kenny
In this documentary about siblings in a classical music ensemble, one of the girls, then in her early teens, describes herself as “optimistic and happy.” The all-Americanness of the three sisters and two brothers who came to be known as the 5 Browns manifested itself in a variety of ways. Born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and raised in Utah, they were avatars of well-scrubbed cheer and hard work. Home-schooled, each one practiced piano at all hours.
Their professional performances were both novel and impractical, playing five-piano arrangements of canonical classical music. Doing the sort of thing you don't expect to see done at all, let alone done well, is also, arguably, very all-American.
“The 5 Browns,” directed by Ben Niles and expanding on a short he made two years ago, is subtitled “Digging Through The Darkness.” The Brown sisters — Desirae, Deondra and Melody — were sexually abused by their father, Keith, from girlhood into their teens.
The idea of the siblings performing together as a unit really came about only after a 2000 New York Times article about how all the children were attending Juilliard simultaneously. After the act got underway, Keith Brown became the business manager and put his children on a punishing schedule, keeping up the abuse for much of the time. Once the sisters revealed what was going on to one another, and to their brothers, Gregory and Ryan, there had to be a reckoning.
And so there was, one that led to further trouble, and one inarguably just resolution: Keith Brown is serving a prison sentence. This story is in a sense confounding. I can't imagine the bitterness of having to deal with one's vocation and artistic calling being inextricably linked to a monstrous, criminal upbringing. And yet the movie is framed by scenes of the now adult Browns making a new record. For as much as they suffered, music was able to keep them sane, and united.
The director and his editor, Amanda Larson, construct the movie in a fairly conventional way, but leave a single string dangling, which they pull tight to devastating emotional effect near the end. The five Browns are likable, admirable individuals; two of the sisters started the Foundation for Surviving Abuse, an advocacy group, and we see them at work with eloquence and compassion. Their trauma and their subsequent resolve, as depicted here, are also, finally, all-American.
from Dept of Justice
Former West Covina Resident Pleads Guilty to Advertising Pornographic Images of Children on Russian Photo-Sharing Website
LOS ANGELES – A former West Covina resident pleaded guilty today to knowingly creating and publishing an advertisement that sought to exchange sexually-explicit images of children on a Russian photo-sharing website frequently used to trade child pornography.
Christopher Clay Roman-Tuttle, 38, now of Spokane, Washington, who told the court he now goes by the name Christopher Clay Tuttle, faces a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years' imprisonment for his guilty plea to one felony count of advertising child pornography. United States District Judge Percy Anderson scheduled a May 20 sentencing hearing.
According to Roman-Tuttle's plea agreement, in March 2015 he created an account with a Russian photo-sharing website and used this account to knowingly publish an advertisement seeking to receive, exchange, and distribute child pornography. Roman-Tuttle admitted to posting two photo albums: one that featured non-pornographic images of a minor known to him, and one password-protected album that contained pornographic images of unknown child victims. Roman-Tuttle advertised these images by posting a statement, which read, in part, “preteens and tween's [sic] in diapers is cool too. I'd love to meet up with a parent that wants to share their daughter (of course id make it worth their while).”
In response to Roman-Tuttle's advertisement, he received numerous emails over the course of two days from dozens of individuals seeking to exchange child pornography with him, the plea agreement states. Roman-Tuttle also admitted to sending and receiving images and videos of child pornography to many of these individuals, at times requesting child pornography videos depicting girls between 5 and 8 years old. In other emails, Roman-Tuttle described his desire to sexually abuse children, including the minor known to him, whom he admitted to having sexually abused in the past, according to his plea agreement. Roman-Tuttle also admitted to knowingly possessing more than 9,000 images and 330 videos of child pornography on his computer and on other devices, including images depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of infants or toddlers. He also admitted to knowingly possessing a sexually explicit image of the minor known to him.
As part of his plea agreement, Roman-Tuttle will have to register as a sex offender, undergo counseling, and be subject to lifetime supervised release once he is out of federal prison.
This matter was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Damaris Diaz of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.
Ciaran McEvoy, Public Information Officer